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What Does It Cost to Tool Up a Garage?

Posted by on 7/3/2013 to Mechanic Hand Tools

If you're looking to stock an automotive garage with a basic complement of tools, you can save a lot of time and hassle by purchasing specialized equipment sets. To show you just how much, we decided to outfit a small, hypothetical garage for under $5,000.

We're not figuring in infrastructure costs, such as compressors or oil disposal, just the cost of a minimal assortment of hand, electrical, and air tools. Compared to individually selecting each piece, you'll see that you can save a lot of money buying your tools in dedicated assortments.

Hand Tools: $2,809.46

When purchasing hand tools, it's more cost-effective to go with a full assortment set than to purchase each piece separately. Tooling up as an individual mechanic is different, of course, as you have only yourself to worry about; when you're outfitting a full shop, there's simply no time to inventory each guy's tools and preferences. Purchasing your hand tools all at once avoids debate, tedious comparative shopping, and time.

There are a number of professional grade hand tool assortments out there, but our personal choice is the Genius Tools MS-401TS 401-piece mechanic's assortment ($2,661.76) It's a good investment, in terms of balancing cost and quality, and includes almost all of your basic hand tools in a drawer chest and roller cabinet. The set includes:

  • 98 Piece 1/4" & 1/2" Dr. Metric Socket & Wrench Set
  • 100 Piece 1/4" & 1/2" Dr. SAE Socket & Wrench Set
  • 44 Piece Metric Complete Wrench Set
  • 86 Piece Screwdriver & Bit Set
  • 23 Piece Punch, Chisel & Hammer Set
  • 15 Piece Combination Pliers Set
  • 4 Drawer Top Chest
  • 7 Drawer Roller Cabinet

There are a few basic hand tools you'll need outside of the assortment, but not many. Pieces you'll want to pick up individually include, but aren't strictly limited to:

Electrical Tools: $283.38

Basic electrical tools are a must for any internal combustion engine, but modern cars are sometimes impossible to diagnose and repair without them. Your basic electrical systems diagnostic kit (such as the Power Probe III Master Kit, $263.11) has everything you need to test every part of a vehicle's electrical system. More advanced systems can isolate failed components from the driver's seat and print out a diagnostic report, but the Power Probe III is a fine start.

There are a few convenient devices you'll need to purchase separately, such as an ignition spark tester ($20.27) and a lot of electrical tape, but your existing hand tools and electrical tape will do in the beginning.

Air Tools and Miscellaneous: $698.19

Rounding off our list with air ratchets, impact wrenches, and miscellaneous tools, we unfortunately have to abandon our strategy of purchasing tools in assortments. Many of these tools are only available individually.

Total Shop Tooling Cost: $3, 791.03

This price reflects basic hand, electrical, air, and miscellaneous tools required to open a small automotive shop. Big ticket items, like air compressor units, and ubiquitous tools, like pocket knives and jack stands, aren't figured in this number. Even so, with a little more than $1,200 left before our $5,000 target, there's enough room for the small tools you personally can't live without. Taking a few minutes to compare assortment prices against tooling up through individual purchases, it's very clear that assortments are the way to go if you need to quickly and cheaply outfit a shop.

If there's anything we've missed, our if you want to keep stocking our hypothetical shop with us ? it's a good mental exercise ? why not take the next round to the comments? Leave your absolute must-haves and their purchase price and we'll add it to our total.

Can the HandsOnTools readership outfit an entire, working garage for less than $15,000? Let's find out.


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